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Rock Art of Colorado

  • Archaic (8000–1000 BC) and Late Archaic (1000 B.C to A.D. 200)
  • Formative Era Game Drives and Driving Gestures, 200 B.C.–A.D. 1300

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    During the Formative Era there is a transition of body shapes for game animals characterized by the short legged, round bodied quadrupeds with smaller horns or antlers. Bows and arrows are depicted, and game drives are shown with animated stick figures using the “driving” gesture. Drawings are from western Colorado (A, by Carol Patterson) and southeastern Colorado (B, by Linda Olson).
    Formative Era Game Drives and Driving Gestures, 200 B.C.–A.D. 1300
  • Formative Era Anthropomorphs

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    Formative Era, AD 500 to 1000 (Fremont and Ancestral Pueblo) and AD 1000 to 1300 (Numic Expansion). Drawings and photographs by Carol Patterson.
    Formative Era Anthropomorphs
  • Protohistoric/Historic Era (AD 1300 to 1700 and AD 1700 to 1900)

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    The Ute historic rock art typically has the horse, buffalo and bear paws. Large pedestrian shield figures may identify Paiute who didn’t ride horses. Plains tribes typically have the horned headdress, horses, and V-necked bodies. In the Southwest, the Utes painted domestic scenes of tribal life. Drawings and photographs by Carol Patterson.
    Protohistoric/Historic Era (AD 1300 to 1700 and AD 1700 to 1900)
  • Ute Rock Art Maps

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    A Ute petroglyph at Shavano Valley is overlaid on a topographic map of the Uncompahgre Plateau. The second panel shows a rock art map from the Smith Fork of the Gunnison overlaid on a topographic map of the Gunnison Gorge and oriented to the south, with a correspondence to the Ute trail location and its alignment with the Gunnison Gorge. Drawings by Carol Patterson.
    Ute Rock Art Maps
  • Conceptual Realism

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    Conceptual realism is used to emphasize the important parts of an animal for spiritual or ritual purposes. Examples here are of the bear with flexed paws from the Formative through the Historic Era. Drawings by Carol Patterson.
    Conceptual Realism
  • Evolution of the Horse and Cultural Preferences

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    Over time from Protohistoric to Historic, the early depictions of the horse by the Utes show exaggerations of the neck and legs using conceptual realism. Drawings by Carol Patterson.
    Evolution of the Horse and Cultural Preferences
  • Mythograms

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    Mythograms for the Ute include the bear paw, the bear and tree, ‘Cosmic Tree’, and creator Sinavi (creator wolf). For the Navajo, there are paintings of the Mountain Way Ceremony and the Yei God, Ghaan’ask’idii. Drawings and photographs by Carol Patterson.
    Mythograms
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References: 

Stephen G. Baker, "Historic Ute Culture Change in West-Central Colorado," in Archaeology of the Eastern Ute: A Symposium, ed. Paul R. Nickens, Occasional Papers No. 1 (Denver: Colorado Council of Professional Archaeologists, 1988).

Stephen G. Baker, "Historic Ute Archaeology: Interpreting the Last Hour Wickiup," Southwestern Lore 69 (Winter 2003).

William G. Buckles, "The Uncompahgre Complex: Historic Ute Archaeology and Prehistoric Archaeology on the Uncompahgre Plateau in West Central Colorado" (PhD diss., University of Colorado [Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1971]).

Sally Cole, Legacy on Stone, 1st ed. (Boulder: Johnson Books, 1990).

Carl E. Conner and Richard Ott, "Petroglyphs and Pictographs of the BLM Grand Junction District: Volumes I and II," unpublished manuscript (Grand Junction, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 1978).

Ron Kessler, San Luis Valley Rock Art (Monte Vista, CO: Adobe Village Press, 2000).

James D. Keyser and Michael A. Klassen, Plains Indian Rock Art (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).

Lawrence Loendorf, Thunder and Herds: Rock Art of the High Plains (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008).

Bill McGlone, Ted Barker, and Phil Leonard, Petroglyphs of Southeast Colorado and the Oklahoma Panhandle (Kamas, UT: Mithras, 1994).

Carol Patterson, "Cross Mountain Petroglyph Site 5MF.2691 Re-Evaluation," unpublished manuscript (Craig, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 2008).

Carol Patterson, "Dine' Ceremonial Paintings in Western Colorado, Navajo Cultural Association," in Papers Presented at the Twenty-fourth Annual Symposium of the Utah Rock Art Research Association, ed. Carol B. Patterson, Utah Rock Art XXIV (Salt Lake City: Utah Rock Art Research Association, 2005).

Carol Patterson, "Shavano Valley Petroglyph Signage and Interpretive Project, unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Montrose Youth and Community Foundation, 2005).

Carol Patterson, "Squint Moore and Rock Art," Southwestern Lore 73 (Summer 2007).

Carol Patterson and Clifford Duncan, "Deer Creek, Dominguez Canyon Rock Art Documentation and Interpretive Signage for the River Heritage Project," unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 2007).

Carol Patterson, Clifford Duncan, and Alan Watchman, "Leonard Basin / Palmer Gulch Rock Art Documentation (Archaeological Assessment), Project 2006-AS-005, unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 2006).

Carol Patterson and Alan Watchman, "Gunnison Gorge Rock Art Documentation, 5DT.813 Re-evaluation," unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 2006).

Carol Patterson and Greg Williams, "Escalante Bridge Rock Art Site 5DT4, Petroglyph and Pictograph Documentation," unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Bureau of Land Management, 2007).

Alan Reed and Michael D. Metcalf, Colorado Prehistory: A Context for the Northern Colorado River Basin (Denver: Colorado Council of Professional Archaeologists, 1999).

Alan D. Reed and Rachel Smith Gebauer, "A Research Design and Context for Prehistoric Cultural Resources in the Uncompahgre Plateau Archaeological Project's Study Area, Western Colorado," unpublished manuscript (Montrose, CO: Alpine Archaeological Consultants, 2004).

Anne M. Smith, Ethnography of the Northern Utes, Papers in Anthropology 17 (Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico, 1974).

Additional Information: 

Carol Patterson, “Ute Rock Art of the Uncompahgre Plateau,” 2010.

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